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Return to In Search of the Unknown part 5 "What's that smell?"

by Greywolf-ELM

Tyco, muscles bulging in the dark, flings the door open into the room, and steps slime and goo, knuck** deep, in the room. Looking in past the confused Orc, the warband sees a vast room with a living mass of tendrils snaking across floor and ceiling. The organism, that has grown to cover nearly every surface, eerily lights the room. Small fluid-filled pods hang from tendrils from the primary mass of organism on the far side of the room. The pods emit light, and the growing forms of kobolds can be seen in silhouette from within each. Large pits are scattered evenly throughout the room and may, at one time, have contained something other than what they do now. Tendrils, as fat as an Orc's thigh, reach down into the pools and gains access to the fluids within. The floor is nearly covered with a thick soup of fluids, ankle deep to an Orc. Tendrils grow in, out and around the pools and out onto the floor in between, all feeding the organism, and the growing kobolds. Kobolds of different types are all around the hatchery. The stench is enough to make the Half-Ogre pause, but the sight of over twenty kobolds, Black-Tongue Kobolds, and Horned Kobolds, brings the warband around.

With practiced ease, the warband moves into the oppressive room, fending off hurled javelins and poison-coated daggers. The Eagles have learned of these tactics and are adept at combating them. An unanticipated problem, through the combat, is the sharp glass and metal strewn inside the door, hidden by the ankle-deep fluid. Tyco, Scrag and Gilnak cut their feet and begin to feel the creep of poison into their wounds. Kobolds attempt to swarm Iirkh, with horned kobolds, running and leaping at him, while others attack with spears. With his great reach and great club, many are smashed into the floor, before they get close enough jab at him with spears. Gorga and Hobna dutifully send arrows across the room into kobolds unable to reach the warband. The Orcs of the warband, Tyco, Scrag, Shglsnor, and Gilnak, form a ring around the goblins and bowmen to allow them uninterrupted attacks. Sharraxtharkul keeps his wolf back out of the way, while he surveys the chamber, looking for clues that might help in the combat. Rhgl begins hurling daggers, as kobolds can be seen between the broad shoulders of his Orcish companions.

Within minutes, all of the kobolds are dead, and Gorga and Sharraxtharkul tend the injured Orcs, back out in the hallway. A weak Orc is a dead Orc, and the strength draining nature of the poison would soon hinder their combat effectiveness.

With injuries bandaged, Sharraxtharkul turns to Gorga. "Let me study this before you order it destroyed. It may bring power to the Vile Ruins."

Gorga nods and grunts his assent, and the Goblin rushes off to investigate, his wolf companion at his side. Rhgl searches through the fluid, for dropped and thrown daggers, his own, and those used by the Black-tongue kobolds. The rest of the Orcs move about stacking bodies and searching for anything useful, magic, food and coins. There are a few coins, but little else of use.

After a boar*** of inspecting the growing hatchery, Sharraxtharkul returns to Gorga.

"Some of these will hatch soon. Kill them, and leave the rest for the Shaman to study. We can not use the poison in the fluid, it stops working away from the rest."

Gorga looks around the warband.

"Rhgl, Tyco, kill the sacks of kobold."

The Orc and Goblin turn to the task and bring axe and dagger to bear on the hanging globes of fluid and forming kobolds. While bringing them down, both are sprayed with fluids from the "kobold sacks" and neither is adversely affected by it.

Gorga rounds up the rest of his warband, and the door to the room is shut. With the warband suffering minor injuries all around, Gorga orders a short rest back in the old throne room for binding of wounds and healing. There is some grumbling, to return there so soon, but no direct disobedience from the Orcs.

Gorga confers with Sharraxtharkul and Rhgl. "They knew we might come. Glass and metal to cut at our feet. Rhgl, you will scout ahead now. Something tells me this is your fault."

Understanding the nature of his magic earring, Gorga gives an additional order. "Say my name and I will hear what you say."

Rhgl tilts his head and looks at Gorga like he's been drinking the fungal brew that some Orcs drink back at the tribe. "Yes Gorga, you will hear me."

Rhgl moves away to prepare for scouting while muttering to himself. "Lousy Stinkin, Gorga, says he can hear me. How does he do it?"

"I heard that Rhgl."

Rhgl yelps and ducks away from the expected cuff, and moves off to prepare.

Soon Gorga has the warband up and continuing the extermination efforts here in the stronghold. With Rhgl scouting ahead, Gorga has Tyco and Scrag nearby for quick heavy support, with Iirkh following behind. Sharraxtharkul and his wolf are next, followed by Shglsnor, Hobna, and Gilnak guarding the rear.

Moving quietly and disappearing from sight, Rhgl moves ahead of the warband around twists and turns in the corridor. He stays about 8 shins ahead of the warband and is expecting to call back an all clear, when he hears a sinister voice in his head.

"Come to me."

Shaking his head to clear it. He peers into the dark hallway ahead.

"Come to me."

Getting a little scared now, Rhgl turns to call back to the warband. This is when his world changes drastically. Magic swirls up around the goblin, and a sickening fog envelops him and much of the hallway in both directions. He screams out "Gorga, it wants us. Don't hurt Rhgl, Nice Rhgl, not hurting anybody," and begins retching.

The Goblin curls up on the floor, waiting for the bad smell and sickness to go away, whimpering quietly between retches, wondering if the Orcs will brave the fog to save him.

Next Up: Return to In Search of the Unknown part 6 "No hurting the Kobold."

** Knucks are equivalent to feet, Ogre Hands as a unit of measure
*** Boar - Measure of time it takes to skin a boar, about one hour. Spits are also used as a measure of time. A boar on a spit is turned over a fire 6 times in about a minute. So a spit is ten seconds.